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Brae Buckner

In the south, wild quail hunting was once the most prestigious form of hunting there was. Quail hunters were typical southern aristocrats that had old money, top-of-the-line bird dogs, and a caveat of horses that they rode through the trails searching for the prized Bobwhite quail. It was a tradition like no other, passed down from generation to generation in the deep south. In the 20th century, you could hear the familiar “bob-white!” call ringing throughout the southern United States. Even Ernest Hemmingway brought to light the sacred traditions of quail hunting through writing about his visits to his wife’s family’s hunting land in Arkansas.

wild quail - alabama quail 300x228 - What Happened to the Wild Quail?

Bobwhite Quail at Great Southern Outdoors

So why is the call of the Northern bobwhite so rarely heard today? The population of wild quail in the south has dropped roughly 85% in the last 50 years. This is not due to over hunting, or even to predation. This is due mainly to the loss of habitat in the Bobwhite quail’s native range. Bobwhites need an early successional habitat, with an abundance of bunch grasses and enough cover to keep them safe from predation. When Bermuda and Bahia grass was introduced to promote increased grazing among cattle farms, they pushed out the native grassland habitats that are detrimental to quail survival. Historically, farm lands were the perfect habitat for quail. Open areas to hunt for insects and consume seeds, edge habitats for nesting, and tall enough cover to hide from predators. Once non-native grasses were introduced though, this habitat was decimated. This left wild quail susceptible to predation and starvation.

Biologists have encouraged landowners to evaluate their seedbanks and promote the growth of native warm season grasses back on to their properties. This has shown a slight increase in the number of wild quail, but because this is only happening on a small scale, it has created isolated populations that cannot interact with other Bobwhite populations, and therefore cannot increase the overall population of the birds on a larger scale. Because the lifespan of wild quail is only about one year, these animals are not surviving long enough to produce large numbers of offspring in the wild. This game bird has been studied in depth for years and years, and yet there seems to be little chance of ever getting the population of wild quail back to where it was just a few decades ago.

While wild quail hunting is not quite what it once was, there are still many opportunities to keep the tradition alive. In the south, quail hunting is still a serious business, and many plantations still manage heavily for quail habitat. Pen-released birds have been able to keep up with the demand for hunting, and often begin establishing themselves and reproducing in the wild. With our attention turning to the efforts of successfully managing for quail populations in the south, the call of the infamous Bobwhite will not soon be forgotten.

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Only about 10 days left to enter our biggest giveaway we've ever done. Don't forget to follow the instructions on the original post to enter for your chance to win a bow hunt at Great Southern Outdoors!Alright y’all....I told y’all there would be another HUGE giveaway from all of us here at Great Southern Outdoors. The lucky winner of this prize will get a 3-day ALL INCLUSIVE BOW HUNT between October 25 and November 17! To win, make sure you’ve “liked” the GSO Facebook page, shared this post to your wall, and tag a friend in the comments telling us why you would like to win. You have until October 1st to participate and we will pick a winner then! Good luck to everybody! ...

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